Kayaking on the Hudson

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Dry bags, dry bags!

If you are going to kayak for any length of time, you will need some dry bags.  Dry bags are just what the name implies- bags that keep things dry.  They come in all kinds of sizes are can be used for anything from your cell phone to your lunch to your sleeping bag.
Giant PVC dry bag that I use to carry kayak gear to and from my car

Dry bags are made from two basic types of materials.  First there is the PVC/Plastic type.  These are very tough and can also come in clear so you can see what is in each bag.  The down side to this type is that they are fairly stiff and can be tough to pack.

Nylon dry bag.  I use it for my sleeping bag when kayak camping.

The other material is nylon with a water-proof coating.  This material is much more flexible and can be rolled up smaller to save space.  The down side is that this material is not quite as water-proof.  It does fine for normal use, but if it sits for a long time in water, it will eventually soak through.

The different sizes of dry bags can be used for many items.  Here are some examples.  I’ll refer to the picture so you get an idea of how I use some of mine.

Some of the many dry bags that I use for kayaking.

5 liter – This is the smallest one in the picture.  I use these for first-aid kits, toiletries on extended trips, food, wallet and cell phone, etc.

10 liter – This is right behind the 5 liter in the photo.  Same uses, but I also use these for extra clothing.

15 liter – Front left in the picture.  Great for clothing and gear.  This one is clear plastic so I can see what’s in it.

20-25 liter – This is the orange one in the picture.  This one is nylon and has a relief valve.  This makes it perfect for clothing.  You can roll it up really tight and it takes less space.  I like to pack my clothing in multiple bags just in case one leaks or gets lost.  (Yes, I’ve lost one on a trip!)

30 liter – This is the blue one on your right.  This can be used for clothing, hiking boots, gear, a sleeping bag, or whatever I need it for.  I also carry an extra one of these just in case.  The one pictured here functioned as my hatch cover for a trip down the Delaware.

50+ liters – The far left gray bag is a nylon bag I use for my tent and sleeping bag.  The giant yellow bag can be used for canoe trips (it has shoulder straps), but I use it mostly for carrying gear to and from the car.

See you on the water,
Don Urmston


  1. Thanks for sharing. I find dry bags are an essential part of any trip I plan.

  2. Great article which simplifies the differences with waterproof dry bags and how to use them.